Negotiators agreed on March 23, 2000, on how to allocate the money from a $5 billion fund to compensate Nazi-era slave and forced laborers, resolving the last major point of contention after months of negotiations.
The agreement specifies that $4 billion be spent to compensate slave and forced labor victims and another $500 million to cover claims for property, bank accounts and insurance policies stolen by the Nazis as well as ``humanitarian cases.'' Another $350 million will be used for a foundation to sponsor research and educational projects around the theme of Nazi labor, with the remainder going for administrative costs and legal fees.
Estimates of how many people could benefit range from 800,000 to 2.3 million. Most are non-Jews from Eastern Europe who had been left out of previous compensation efforts because they were behind the Iron Curtain.
Under the deal, slave laborers — those who were put to work in concentration camps and expected to die doing their jobs — would receive up to $7,500 each. Forced laborers, who worked in factories outside camps, would get up to $2,500 each.
The size of the fund, to be financed half by the German government and half by industry, was decided in December 1999, but no agreement was reached over how to divide the money among the various groups to be covered. The German government must still enact legislation creating the foundation. If the agreements reached in the negotiations are incorporated, the U.S. government will support the dismissal of lawsuits filed against German companies in U.S. courts.